This Area of Concentration examines how environmental challenges and energy constraints interact with international politics and conflict.

Area of Concentration Courses

A minimum of four courses are required to earn this Area of Concentration within the MA in Global Security Studies degree.

This course provides an in-depth examination of how the effects of climate change could impact national security, international relations, and global stability. Students will begin by examining and discussing the current body of academic literature. As the semester progresses, students will learn and practice how to use cross-disciplinary resources and tools to envision potential relationships between climate change effects and security outcomes.

Russia plays a key role in most international issues and openly campaigns to realign the international system away from what it sees as American domination. This course considers the substance and process of Russian national security policy. It acquaints students with the main instruments and mechanisms available to Russian leaders to advance the country’s national interests and key policy priorities. The course considers how Russia formulates and conducts its national security policy, the history that informs it, the political culture that sustain it, the ideas and interests that drive it, and the people and institutions responsible for it. The course addresses Russia’s role in key global and regional issues and its relations with major powers. It places special emphasis on the wars in Ukraine and Syria, Russian concepts of information war, and on Russian military reform.

This course is a seminar-based overview of the role of energy in national security. Using a range of U.S. and non-U.S. case studies, students will review the roles of energy in grand strategy, the role of energy in conflict, and, finally, as a logistical enabler of military operations.

The multiple crises plaguing the world today make evident the mutual inter-dependence and vulnerability of people and nations. The idea of human security has gained increasing significance within this increasingly complex and interconnected world. Human security places emphasis on the security needs of individual citizens, rather than being preoccupied by traditional, state-centric conceptions of security. It takes into account the impact of security threats such as economic crises, pandemics, and climate change on the lives of individuals within and across national boundaries. The course thus draws attention to alternative interpretations of what constitute security threats and how to contend with the underlying causes of volatility and human insecurity that prevail around the world.

This course examines the nexus of energy, natural resources, and the environment with conflict, war, terrorism, crime, development, diplomacy, politics, and technology. Students critically examine the ways that increased competition for environmental and energy resources, strained resources, and changing conditions can threaten national security. The course also examines how such threats may be mitigated. (Core course for the MA in Global Security Studies)

(Core course for the MA in Global Security Studies). This course is designed for students who have already passed 470.851 Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Social Science and either 470.854 Fundamentals of Quantitative Methods or 470.853 Historical Methods (or 470.709 Quantitative Methods with permission from program director). In this class, students will begin and complete a substantial piece of original research explicitly drawing on research methods they learned in the previous two classes. The research study is expected to be methodologically sound and to make a useful contribution to the issue under study. Class meetings are designed to give guidance in the clarification of issues, collection of data, assembly of various parts, and writing. The class will also prepare students for final defense. Graduation is subject to approval of the research study by the committee. Students should come into the class prepared with a detailed research question. Students may enroll in this course only in their last semester of the MA program.

This course provides an introduction to the hydrological cycle and examines the influence of climate, geology, and human activity on this cycle. The components comprising this cycle will be examined and include: precipitation; evapotranspiration; surface and groundwater flow; storage in natural reservoirs; water quality; and water resource management and regulation. Discussion of these topics in threaded discussions using the primary literature as well as problem sets will highlight applications and areas of current hydrological research. Offered online and onsite three times per year. Onsite version includes a required field trip.

The course is designed to introduce students to the process by which environmental policy can be implemented as law in the international sphere. “Law of the Sea” formed the foundation of modern public international law. It also represents the world’s first efforts to define and regulate a “global commons” and to grapple with the management of resources as the “common heritage of mankind”. Topics explored include freedom of navigation on the high seas, the limits on port-state jurisdiction over foreign vessels, and the scope of coastal nations’ power to regulate activities in their respective territorial waters, “contiguous zones”, and “exclusive economic zones”. The course also examines how the UNCLOS regime functions in tandem with other treaties, customary international law, the role of voluntary standards (such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International and International Organization for Standardization (ISO)) and domestic law in addressing specific current issues - including management of living and nonliving resources on the Continental Shelf, deep seabed mining, reduction of pollution, protection of highly migratory fish stocks, aquaculture, “marine dead zones”, and the future of ocean policy.

Climate change impacts and policies effect different groups of people in varying ways. More vulnerable populations will disproportionately experience impacts more severely (drought, flooding, food security, storms, heat islands, changes to resources and livelihoods). Also, policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change will have differential impacts. In this course, we will review both climate impacts and proposed policies through the lens of equity and justice. Topics to cover will include: analysis of differential impacts, equity critique of mitigation policies, and the impact of adaptation policies on the poor and people of color. The course will cover both the US and international topics.

In this course, students study the oceans and the atmosphere as interrelated systems. The basic concepts of air masses, water masses, winds, currents, fronts, eddies, and storms are linked to permit a fundamental understanding of the similar nature of oceanic and atmospheric processes. Among the course’s topics are weather forecasting, global climate change, marine pollution, and an introduction to applied oceanography. A field trip is included for in-person sections. Offered on-site or online two to three times each year.

Sustainability Science is an interdisciplinary field engaged with understanding the dynamics between natural and social systems and how those interactions challenge the notion of sustainability. This course will start by reviewing the history of the concept of sustainability and will then consider how it has been applied in the environmental sciences. Specifically the goal of the course is to provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary perspective on this emerging field, understanding its theory, research horizons, and practical applications. Concepts to be reviewed include socio-environmental systems, complex adaptive systems, cross-scalar impacts, tipping points and regime shifts, vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity, equity, sustainable development, political ecology, governance, capital assets and livelihoods. In a seminar context this course will consider these and other concepts from a theoretical perspective but will focus on their application in solving real-world problems.

This course provides students with a broad introduction to U.S. environmental policymaking and policy analysis. Included are a historical perspective as well as an analysis of future policymaking strategies. Students examine the political and legal framework, become familiar with precedent-setting statutes such as NEPA , RCRA , and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and study models for environmental policy analysis. Cost benefit studies, the limits of science in policymaking, and the impact of environmental policies on society are important aspects of the course. A comparison of national and international policymaking is designed to provide students with the global perspective on environmental policy. Offered online or onsite, at least twice per year.

Covering over 70% of our planet, the ocean produces half the planet’s oxygen, absorbs a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions, feeds 3 billion people, and contributes $3 trillion per year to the global economy. Yet, we know more about the moon’s surface than we do about the bottom of the ocean. What we do know, however, is that overfishing, pollution, land-use change, and ocean warming and acidification, to name a few, are causing marine biodeterioration and threatening the ability of the ocean to sustain global systems critical for life. This course will provide students with a robust scientific approach to the study of oceans with a focus on environmental issues, governance and social-ecological systems. This is an interdisciplinary course that examines the history of human interactions with ocean environments, current ocean sustainability issues, and real-world examples of how to advance ocean conservation practices and theories in the future. Students will investigate approaches to protect ocean ecosystems, to promote innovation in ocean governance, and to increase scientific knowledge, research and technology that supports ocean health. This course provides a holistic and systems-based view of how human interactions influence ocean functions and of innovative policies and sustainable management solutions to social and environmental problems stemming from those interactions.

This course examines urbanization and its impacts on the environment. The goal of the course is to better understand how urbanization contributes to ecological damage as well as how cities can be constructed in ecologically healthy ways. Topics include land use planning transportation, waste, management, water quality, open space/greening, green building technology, urban design, and urban ecology. The course takes an international perspective by using case studies of cities in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The case studies also include a wide range of cities with different populations, geographic scale, and growth rates. Final projects are an in-depth study of one particular city of the student's choice and its attempts to implement programs for sustainability. Offered online, annually. Prerequisite: 420.614 Environmental Policymaking and Policy Analysis, equivalent course, or experience.

This course explores the methods and strategies for promoting solutions to global environmental problems. Through consideration of issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion, global climate change, tropical deforestation, loss of biodiversity, transnational pollution, and other threats to the international commons, students examine policymaking from the perspective of developed and developing countries, the United Nations system, international financial entities, and nongovernmental interest groups. By investigating important international agreements, students determine how far the international community has come in solving specific problems, what obstacles prevent effective international solutions, and what needs to be done to overcome barriers. Offered onsite or online, infrequently. Prerequisite: 420.614 Environmental Policymaking and Policy Analysis, equivalent course, or experience.

Poor and developing countries are predicted to bear the brunt of climate change. This course will focus on key sectors such as agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, water resources, human health, and tourism and the ways in which poorer and developing counties are impacted by and adapting to climate change. This course may focus on a region or a specific country depending on the instructor. Assessment and evaluation of demographic trends, environmental challenges such as retreating ice, potential flood hazards, ecosystem impacts, as well as health issues will be incorporated. International instruments such as adaptation funds, carbon funds, clean development mechanisms, and reduced deforestation/degradation strategies and policies will be investigated in a comparative analysis of impacts and adaptation responses of countries around the world. Offered online, annually.

This course considers the environmental and social challenges of providing a sustainable global food system. We will investigate the geographic patterns of agricultural and food production systems, emphasizing contemporary patterns and how these came to be. Attention will be given to agricultural systems from the local to the global scale and we will consider the global distribution of production and consumption of agricultural products. The impacts of global change issues such as climate change, energy crops, population growth, and urbanization on food production will be also be part of the course. Offered online or onsite, annually.

This graduate-level course explores the dual nature of water scarcity worldwide, including both natural and human causes, and what is being done to help people and ecosystems cope with scarcity. The course covers definitions of water scarcity, the geographic extent of the problem, and trends in factors that contribute to it. It also examines several types of actions that are being taken to deal constructively with water scarcity. These actions fall into the general categories of monitoring, supply enhancement, conservation, re-use, pollution control, lifestyle changes to lower our water footprint, and public policy changes. Many of these actions, especially those related to public policy, are incorporated into seven principles of sustainable water management detailed in the course textbook, “Chasing Water: A guide for moving from scarcity to sustainability”, by Brian Richter of the Nature Conservancy. Examination of the principles helps to end the course on a hopeful note by reminding us that humans collectively use only 5-10 percent of the water that falls as precipitation, and we have the capacity to greatly reduce the human suffering and environmental damage caused by poorly managed use of freshwater resources.

This course is a broad survey of the international water issues facing the 21st century. Topics to be covered include, water security, privatization of water service delivery, conflict and cooperation on trans-boundary rivers, the role of large multi-purpose reservoirs (for hydropower, water supply, irrigation), water as a human right, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on water supply and sanitation, the role of water in food security, water institutions and policies, and climate change. Any discourse today on sustainable development is not complete without a discussion of the important role of water to society, economic growth, and poverty reduction. Our objective in this course is to gain a broad overview of these issues, primarily from the sustainable development lens, and to critically evaluate these challenges from a multi-disciplinary perspective (e.g. economics, environment, social, engineering, public health). This is important as solutions to water problems will require many different disciplines and expertise working together.

The course begins examining the basic processes of the climate system. The course, then, moves to the study of the changing climate. While natural changes will be studied, the emphasis will be on anthropogenic climate change. Various models for predicting future climate change will be presented, including the assumptions and uncertainties embedded in each model. The regional climate impacts and impacts on subsystems will be examined, including changes in rainfall patterns, loss of ice and changes in sea level. The possible ecological effects of these predicted changes will also be examined. Offered online and on twice per year.

After a study of the historical development of climate change policy, this course analyzes current policy options for mitigating and adapting to long-term climate change. The course will examine various approaches available in the U.S. for national-level policy, including regulatory and market-based approaches, particularly cap and trade and carbon taxation. Various models for designing a cap and trade system will be studied, including the European experience and regional programs in the United States. Special attention will be paid to methods for setting initial prices and accounting for discounting of future benefits. The course will focus primarily on national-level carbon management policies, but international agreements will also be included, as well as equity considerations on a global level.

This course introduces students to environmental markets and the policies that create them, focusing mainly on emissions trading systems to mitigate climate change. The course also provides an introduction to attributes of the financial sector through its analysis of markets for environmental commodities Students learn the economic theory behind market-based environmental policy instruments, such as tradable renewable energy credits, carbon offsets, and water rights in a semester of lectures featuring presentations from practitioners, including state and federal government, private companies subject to market-based emissions regulation, commodity brokers, and representatives from international institutions. Offered online on-site twice per year.

This course focuses on the development, analysis, and implementation of international policy frameworks and mechanisms for climate change mitigation and adaptation. It includes a review of the history of international responses to climate change at the multilateral and bilateral levels, including in depth examination of the agreements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Conference of the Parties (COP) as well as important bilateral agreements. The course explores how international climate change policy is affected by the national priorities and capacities of countries, and how these circumstances shape the evolution of both climate change policy and related areas such as trade and energy. It is recommended, but not required, that students take AS.425.602 - Science of Climate Change and its Impacts and/or AS.425.603 - Climate Change Policy Analysis before taking this elective.

Global climate change risks are increasingly complex and may ultimately affect virtually every facet of our economic, energy, community, and environmental systems. At the same time, policy and investment responses to climate resiliency needs are similarly complex, controversial, and high stakes. Perhaps no issue facing leaders of today and tomorrow is more cross- cutting in nature or in greater need of improved understanding and capability than climate change risk. This course will provide a comprehensive framework for understanding, assessing, and applying climate change risk, vulnerability, a hazard assessment for the development of risk reduction an adaptation response. In the process, it will examine the status, limitations, and strengths of current assessment and action planning approaches across varying sectors, scales, and impact areas. The course will also include a review of methods prioritizing actions and addressing feasibility, flexibility, and logistical needs as applied to specific facilities, such as military installations, as well broader communities and multistate regions. Individual and group learning exercises will be involved. Offered on-site at least once every two years.

Europe, the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), and Asia are interdependent geoeconomic domains with interlinked energy markets. This course will provide an overview of the main topics that characterize the structure and fundamental dynamics of energy markets in these regions and how energy security and economic development strategies shape the fate of nations. Students will learn the historic, economic, political, structural, and operational aspects of the regions' energy industries, with a particular emphasis on the production and transportation of petroleum and natural gas. The course will also explore how economic development, energy and national security, environmental considerations, and technology evolution shape and disrupt these relationships. Students will learn how the strategies of nations, national and private energy companies, and the role of international and intergovernmental organizations, such as OPEC and the European Commission, interact to shape the future direction of energy markets and the planet. The course will familiarize students with publicly available sources of data on energy in these regions.

Energy policy is about more than sheer market design. Policy agendas have become increasingly complex, adding sustainability and development to traditional energy security concerns. In response, a patchwork of institutional frameworks has emerged, including clubs (OPEC, IEA), treaties, the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), agencies, the International Renewable Energy Agency or policy networks, and the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership. The course introduces students to the global dimensions of energy policy, discusses shifting agendas, and assesses the institutional spectrum of global energy governance. Offered online at least once every two years.

South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives) is home to more than 1.7 billion people (nearly 25% of the global population). It is also a region of rapidly growing economies, rising energy consumption, and increasing environmental stress. Fossil fuels, particularly coal is the major source of electricity in the region, contributing to rising greenhouse gas emissions and worsening air quality. India in particular is promoting the use of indigenous coal to power its economic growth. At the household level, inefficient use of biomass for cooking and heating continues to be a major health and environmental hazard. Moreover, fresh water stress and pollution has reached alarming levels in the region with far reaching impacts on agriculture and human health.

South Asia is uniquely vulnerable to climate change impacts. On the one hand, receding Himalayan glaciers in Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bhutan are exacerbating water stress and threatening food security for more than a 1 billion people. And on the other hand, Bangladesh and Maldives are prone to sea level rise and coastal flooding from powerful tropical storms.

Creating a sustainable energy and freshwater pathway is intrinsically linked to innovative development approaches tailored to local and regional variabilities. In order to curb growing emissions, the region is promoting renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and micro hydro power. However, the unmet demand for energy, particularly electricity remains so large in South Asia that fossil fuels are expected to be a major part of the future energy mix. Water stress is being managed through a mix of traditional and modern techniques.

Given the demographic size of the region and the pent-up energy demand, it can be argued that the success of global climate change initiatives (such as the 2015 Paris agreement) in large part is cont

This course aims to introduce the students with an overview of electric power industry including the fundamentals of power system generation, transmission, and markets. Various power generation technologies and system network characteristics will be introduced. Key elements of power system operation such as unit commitment, economic dispatch, and optimal power flow will be discussed to provide the background for understanding how the power grid operates and to lay the foundation for understanding the environmental impact from power generation and system operation. An overview of grid planning will be provided. Students will also be exposed to power markets and complex relationship between market and system. Later, students will be exposed to the topics of US energy policy that particularly pertains to power industry. Relevant energy policies of certain countries on global setting for the electricity sector will also be discussed. The latest developments in power industry such as smart grid, microgrid, distributed energy resources and other topics will also be covered.

Nuclear energy is a potent energy source that is widely feared and misunderstood, yet continues to play an integral role in the global energy landscape today and in the future. This course will focus on the different forms and use of nuclear energy, the history of nuclear energy and regulation, the fundamentals of fission and fusion nuclear power, the radiological health applications, and the electromagnetic and other radiation in the environment. Students will also learn about federal and international policies and regulations that govern the civilian use of nuclear energy and implications for climate mitigation. Current events related to nuclear power at the international level will also be covered in the course. Prerequisite: AS.425.601 – Principles and Applications of Energy Technology or permission of instructor.

Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

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